Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar --
By the time many of you read this, most of you will be
midway through your deployment. And for
most, you are hitting your stride. You
have your processes down pat and you own the mission despite, day or night, the
long hot shifts. You’re all
professionals and by now, you’ve mastered your schedule: eat, sleep, work and workout…repeat.
It is the “repeat” or repetitiveness that sometimes drives
people crazy. Just the other day, I
heard someone say, “It’s Groundhog Day, again.”
For those who may not know the reference, Groundhog Day is a movie from
the early 1990’s starring Bill Murray as the Pittsburgh TV Meteorologist Phil
Connors. Phil is sent on assignment to
cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. After getting snowed in due to a blizzard,
Phil has to spend the night in Punxsutawney.
When he wakes up the next morning, Phil realizes that we is reliving
Groundhog Day, again. And for Phil, who
despises any and everything about Groundhog Day, the worst is yet to come as he
continues to relive the same day over and over again.
Often during deployments where the seasons stay relatively
the same and the scenery is missing a few shades on the color scale, some people
fall into the Groundhog Day trap. They
become complacent as the same routine (same job, long days, dichromatic
scenery) repeats over and over again.
Obviously, the repetitiveness is something that can’t be avoided. However, the attitude in how we approach it
is completely in our control.
For Phil, continuously reliving the same day with no end in
sight led to depression. Luckily, Phil
had someone to talk and confide in.
Subsequently his attitude changed and instead of moping about, he
decided to take advantage of his situation.
Eventually, Phil learned how to play the piano, sculpt ice and even
recite French poetry.
At times, deployed life can lead to blocks of
depression. Luckily, there exist many helping
agencies to get us over that hump. The
Chaplain Corps, the Expeditionary Medical Group’s Mental Health officers as
well as Airman and Family Readiness Center’s Military and Family Life
Consultants are a few professionals deployed alongside us who are great at
breaking down those repetitive patterns into manageable chunks.
There are also a plethora of activities and events to help ease
the body and mind. Some of these events
simply blow off steam while other activities improve ones’ self. For instance, the EFSS provides an education
center for degree advancement. They also
provide a calendar of events to improve morale or to get physically in
shape. In addition to on base events,
ITT offers a myriad of local activities to learn about and experience our host
nation. And if you want to meet people
while giving a helping hand to our host nation, join Jar Saleh, a volunteer organization
who works with the host nation as “Good Neighbors” for local community
As a former AF Meteorologist who’s deployed numerous times,
I appreciate the irony of Groundhog Day and deployments. So when you find yourself in a repetitive
rut, reach out and make life better. You
have the power to effect change, to better yourself. And the best part about it…you don’t have to
do it alone.
For more information on these topics, please visit (links):